Two months after the complete closure of its borders, China is beginning to lift restrictions on foreigners. The country on Saturday received a Lufthansa plane transporting about 200 German workers, making them the first foreign labour entry into China in months.
German workers are not uncommon in the Chinese economy, as there are more than 5,000 German companies operating in China, according to the local German Chamber of Commerce.
China’s capital city, Beijing is set to receive more foreigners, albeit in controlled numbers, announcing on Friday that some Singapore nationals will be allowed to return from early June.
They will however only be allowed entry into six cities and provinces initially, including Shanghai.
In the aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic— which originated in Wuhan— China drastically cut international flight routes in late March and imposed a entry ban on most foreigners — including those with valid residence visas.
As a consequence, large numbers of workers were unwittingly stranded abroad and unable to return after leaving China at the height of the epidemic.
The drastic step underscores the country’s fears of a revival of the deadly disease, claiming over 4,000 Chinese lives at its peak.
China is showing strong signs of recovery, however, as industrial production surged last month twice as fast as most economists expected, according to official data released recently by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.
The number of international flights between China and the rest of the world will increase from 134 to 407 per week as of Monday, assures the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration.
The Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt landed shortly before noon at Tianjin airport, southeast of Beijing, the German flag-carrier said.
The group, made up of employees of German companies and their families, were tested for COVID-19 after they landed and will have to quarantine for two weeks.
A second aircraft — reserved for people whose who need to be in China for economic, commercial, scientific or technological purposes, or for urgent humanitarian reasons — is scheduled to depart from Frankfurt for Shanghai on June 3.
New coronavirus infections had largely disappeared in China by the start of last month, according to official reports.
Only a dozen new, locally transmitted cases were officially acknowledged nationwide in the first week of April. Data suggest that practically all factories and many other types of businesses were open throughout last month.
China currently has 63 known active cases of the Coronavirus, with 60 in mild condition. The country has a record of 82,936 closed cases—78,302 of whom recovered— and 4,634 deaths.